Boeing’s wholly owned subsidiary Insitu has been contracted by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to deliver RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The $71m low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot V follow-on contract comes with an option for two additional LRIP systems and an optional year for nine full-rate production (FRP) systems. The company expects the FRP decision review to be undertaken this autumn.

Insitu president and CEO Ryan Hartman said: "Blackjack delivers an organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAS that is runway-independent and founded on an open architecture that allows for implementation of innovative payloads to meet critical operational demands."

"The 8ft-long UAS is designed to provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications."

Insitu’s RQ-21A Blackjack is a larger twin-tailed follow-on to the ScanEagle UAS and features electro-optic and mid-wave infrared sensors with a laser rangefinder and infrared marker. It consists of five air vehicles, two ground control stations and multi-mission payloads.

The 8ft-long UAS is designed to provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications, relayed to troops on land and at sea.

In 2010, NAVAIR awarded the STUAS Engineering Manufacturing Development contract to Insitu to begin the development of RQ-21A Blackjack.

The programme achieved Milestone C review in 2013 and delivered the first LRIP system in 2014 while the UAS achieved initial operational capability milestone in January this year.

The Blackjack successfully performed the first ship-borne flight from the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) in February 2013.

Last year, NAVAIR awarded another $78m LRIP Lot IV contract to Insitu to supply six RQ-21A Blackjack UASs.

Image: RQ-21A Blackjack recovers aboard the USS Mesa Verde. Photo: courtesy of PRNewsFoto / Insitu.